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Case No. 21-0968

For summaries from opinions prior to August, 2018, view PDF versions here

In the Interest of J.L., Minor Child

S.C. and K.C., Intervenors-Appellants,

E.S., Intervenor-Appellee

Attorney for Appellant Intervenor

Cathleen J. Siebrecht

Attorney for Appellee Intervenor

Patricia Reisen-Ottavi

Attorney for Appellee State

Ellen Ramsey-Kacena, Assistant Attorney General

Guardian ad Litem

Kristy L. Hefel

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
21-0968
Date Published:
Jan 27, 2022
Summary

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Greer and Badding, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  Special Concurrence by Badding, J. (26 pages)

            The juvenile court terminated the parental rights of J.L.’s biological mother and father and appointed the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) the guardian of the child.  Shortly after, the intervenor-foster parent and the guardian ad litem (GAL) each filed a motion to remove DHS as guardian.  Following a hearing in spring of 2021, the juvenile court concluded DHS acted unreasonably in discharging its duties as guardian to find a suitable adoptive home for the child, granted the motions to remove DHS, and appointed the intervenor-foster parent as guardian instead.  The intervenor-maternal relatives, who DHS had chosen as the pre-adoptive placement for J.L., appeal the juvenile court’s ruling.  They challenge the court’s decision to remove DHS as guardian and argue the juvenile court improperly usurped DHS’s role by substituting its judgment for that of DHS.  OPINION HOLDS: We agree with the juvenile court that the foster parent and GAL met their burden to prove DHS acted unreasonably in the decision-making process in picking a pre-adoptive placement for J.L. and its lack of meaningful transition plan for J.L. once it decided on the biological relatives who resided in Florida.  Therefore, we affirm the removal of DHS as J.L.’s guardian and affirm the appointment of the foster parent instead.  SPECIAL CONCURRENCE ASSERTS: I join in affirming the removal of the Iowa Department of Human Services as this child’s guardian but write separately to emphasize the difference between this case and the many others where we have refused similar requests from prospective adoptive parents.

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